Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Day 4: Stratton Inspirations

Dscn4730September 7: Today the trail headed over Stratton Mountain. This mountain doesn’t look special at first glance. It stands taller than most, is covered with trees, and generally acts like a mountain is supposed to act. But this mountain is also historic for it was on this summit that James P. Taylor first conceived of the Long Trail in 1910 and near this summit that Benton MacKaye extended the idea to build the Appalachian Trail a few years later.

 

The climb up the mountain was non-eventful. Some hikers seemed concerned about the steep climb to the top, but as far as climbs went, it wasn’t bad at all. It picked up a lot of elevation, but relatively slowly compared to other parts of the trail. At the top, there’s a small hut that a caretaker lives in and a fire lookout tower that hikers are allowed to climb.

 

When I arrived, the caretaker was in a deep discussion about government budgets and education or something with two other hikers, so I went on by. I dropped my pack a the base of the fire tower and climbed to the top. The wind, above tree level, was absolutely terrific and I had to cinch the chin strap of my hat tight to keep it from blowing away. Once I reached the observation deck, it wasn’t a bit deal—the observation deck was covered with windows so the wind couldn’t get in. The views were awesome in every direction. Clouds hung overhead so there weren’t any blue skies, but they stayed above the tallest mountains so none of them obscured the views.

 

I putted around a bit and finally descended where I ate a quick lunch at the base. The caretaker was done chatting with the other hikers and turned her interest to me, but I think she must have found me uninteresting because she didn’t chat long. Admittedly, I didn’t really say anything to encourage conversation either, though. Too busy pondering the meaning of life, the Long Trail, and the Appalachian Trail, I suppose. =)

 

Onward I continued, down to the shelter at Stratton Pond. I didn’t really have any reason to stop at the shelter itself, which was located a bit off from the main trail, but I did so anyhow to get photos in case I wanted them for walking4fun.com. =) The shelter was an impressive thing, though—with an upstairs loft and a covered picnic table. I stopped for lunch #2 and signed the register.

 

I kept hiking, passing by Stratton Pond—the largest body of water along the Long Trail—and a scenic one at that. =) For the night, I headed into the William Douglas Shelter which, I found out much too late, was a half-mile off the trail. I tend to avoid places that are half a mile off the trail, but it looked ready to rain and, on the map, the trail looked pretty level.

It was, indeed, an easy half-mile off the trail, and when I arrived at the shelter, nobody else was there. I suspected Tom and John would show up before too long since they had also been talking about stopping here for the night, so I claimed my spot and started making dinner. Almost immediately, a light sprinkle started, which pounded loudly on the aluminum roofing. I didn’t care, though, as long as it kept me dry.

 

Tom and John arrived soon after, and soon after that the rain started picking up and Cackles then poked her head in looking to escape the rain before it really started letting loose. Another day done!

 

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The climb up to Stratton Mountain was rocky, but
not actually all that bad.

 

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Flowers on the trail. No idea what these are, though. =)

 

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The caretaker at the top of Stratton Mountain.

 

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Stratton Mountain Fire Lookout Tower

 

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View from the lookout tower. (I actually took this photo
one level down from the top since the windows of the
observation deck made good photos difficult.)

 

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No mountain bikes allowed! Get it? No mountain bikes?
It took me awhile to realize that’s what the mountain was for. =)

 

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Stratton Pond Shelter—with loft and covered picnic table! Classy!

 

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The Magic 8 ball someone left there predicts that I
will “most likely” complete my Long Trail hike. Hmm….

 

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Stratton Pond, the largest body of water along the Long Trail.

 

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The William Douglas Shelter, which was one of the darkest,
most claustrophobic shelters I’d been in.

4 comments:

tiggermama said...

Wait til you get farther north - there are more shelters like that. You will be claustrophobic again. . .
man, i love that pond. . .

Anne Bonny said...

Love following along on the hike! I have a question I've been curious about on this trail though and on a few of the others. You've mentioned in the past what type of shoes you've hiked in. I'm just wondering what the current choice of footwear is ;)

Ted said...

Hiked that with one of my daughters years ago. A fellow was hanging off the fire tower by a rope painting it. I suggested it seemed rather dangerous with the wind and no one available if something went wrong, but he said he painted towers all over that way. We stopped for lunch on the shore of Stratton Pond, but ended up eating while running to keep the black flies out of our mouths!

Ryan said...

I'm currently hiking in Merrell Moab Ventilators. =)

-- Ryan